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Nashville Hot Chicken restaurant Fry The Coop is opening three new locations throughout Chicagoland, starting with Portage Park, located at 4300 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The Chicago-based restaurant will move its sixth location into the former home of Gyro Eats in just a few weeks, according to Block Club Chicago. Owner Joe Fontana also plans to open a new location in Darien in about two or three months, followed by an eighth location coming to Glen Ellyn, which is now under construction. These locations will feature the restaurant’s signature Nashville hot chicken sandwiches dipped in beef fat, which gives the chicken its signature reddish color.
Fontana first started with a restaurant in Oak Lawn in 2017. It didn’t take long before the Villa Park native’s chicken grew popular, and its demand increased. Two years into opening the original restaurant, Fontana was able to open three more locations in Elmhurst, Prospect Heights, and West Town. The same year he was named a notable entrepreneur by Crain’s Chicago Business. This massive success that has launched seven locations in five years is centered around a dish that reminded him of his Italian grandmother’s cooking.
“My grandma used to cook these breaded chicken cutlets, and we would have fried chicken,” Fontana tells Block Club Chicago. “She would brown the chicken, and the whole room would smell like fried chicken. My friends would always tease me because I would turn everything into a sandwich… so I started making chicken sandwiches.”